Stories published in October, 2017

Can the Kurdish referendum potentially destabilise the Middle East?

Over the last few weeks, political conversations in Iraq have mostly revolved around the historic Kurdish referendum. This referendum allowed the Kurds to declare independence from the Iraqi central government in Baghdad. The Kurds are a stateless ethnic group of people who inhabit spaces in modern-day Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. They’ve been one of the most persecuted groups in history and it was only recently, in 2005, that they gained constitutional recognition in Iraq. A few days before the referendum, I asked an Iraqi friend about what the referendum entails and if it would prove to be successful. He smiled and informed me that Baghdad had been resisting ...

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Three reasons why Pakistan crumbled at the hands of Sri Lanka

Recently, the Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi hosted two teams, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who are currently in transition. There were only a handful of spectators, which was hardly a surprise, and although there was a lack of support for their team, the islanders edged ahead. For the first three days, the game was moving at a snail’s pace. However, during the final days, the game swiftly changed its gears. It seemed as though the match was heading towards a draw, but on the fourth day, Pakistan began to ascend. Although many believed that Pakistan had a good chance ...

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Will the Islamic State flag in Islamabad hinder Pakistan’s progress?

There is the lush screen scenery. There are the picturesque Margalla Hills. There are the curve-friendly roads on these hills that remind one of Vital Signs and Junaid Jamshed. There is the crisp and cool weather. There is a particular calm never found in other major cities of the country. Then there is the Lal Masjid – the antithesis of everything in Islamabad – loud, angry and not at all pretty. It was only a matter of time before this happened then, an Islamic State (IS) flag dangling in Islamabad, even though it may or may not have anything to do with Lal Masjid. Things in Pakistan have generally looked better off late. The military ...

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Why an alliance with PTI will prove to be detrimental for MQM

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about the possibility of an alliance between the Muttahida Quami Movement – that is now divided into MQM-Pakistan (MQM-P) and MQM-London (MQM-L) – and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) at a federal level. Furthermore, this alliance is allegedly to replace the current opposition leader, Khursheed Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), with someone nominated by PTI. It is said that all politics are realpolitik and eventually realist concerns dictate what political parties actually do. PTI and MQM, given their history of intense confrontation, would prove this saying true if this alliance materialises. Both the parties have been clashing ...

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Mother! is an extremely confusing riddle wrapped in a mystery, hidden inside an enigma

Every once in a while, there comes a piece of visual art that is bashed and praised in equal measure. A movie which has the remarkable potential to infuriate and stimulate at the same time. Facing an intense backlash from the audience, Paramount Studios had to release a statement defending its latest release. There is no denying the fact that Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! is an extremely confusing riddle wrapped in a mystery, hidden inside an enigma. Aronofsky’s current girlfriend, Jennifer Lawrence, plays the titular character. In the movie, she is the better half of Javier Bardem, who plays a famous ...

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Before pointing the terrorism finger at Pakistan, it’ll be wise for India to take a look in their violent backyard first

While in Singapore, I met an Indian Hindu from Indian Gujarat, the state where I was born, in the hotel lobby. After exchanging pleasantries, he asked me, “And in which city do you live now?” When I said Karachi, he was shocked. “But that’s in Pakistan!” And then, when the truth dawned on him, he said, “You’re a Pakistani as well as a Muslim?!” He started edging away from me and I had to assure him that I wasn’t about to blow him up. Like most Indian Hindus, he had always believed that most Pakistanis cannot speak English, that they are too poor to afford vacations ...

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With one royal decree, Saudi Arabia has driven away decades of injustice

I was at the wheel of my own motor when the news came over BBC: King Salman of Saudi Arabia has issued a decree permitting Saudi women the right to drive. In one royal decree, he had swept away decades of injustice against half of the Kingdom. As I navigated the evening rush hour in New York, I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. An almost unintelligible Saudi women activist speaking to the BBC babbled with joy at the news, announcing that she would now drive her dream car – a Ford Mustang convertible. Saudi Arabia until today was the only country in the world to ban women from ...

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Making Pakistan (un)proud: Too consumed by domestic issues to care about overseas Pakistanis, Khwaja Asif?

Blunt and evasive are two adjectives that best describe Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s recent conversation with the Asia Society. It was held in union with the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Asif, a vocal critic of Donald Trump’s version of American foreign policy, admitted that Trump’s position on the Afghanistan-Pakistan (AfPak) region was an “utter disappointment”. However, I personally felt that his elusive response to the question regarding Pakistani-Americans was an utter disappointment. The interviewer, a world-renowned journalist and author, Steve Coll, mentioned the increasingly polarising nature of the American society, which the foreign minister sharply labelled as a bad sign for the future. Coll also referred to the ...

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Series 8: The Green Thumb Part 3 ‘He did have a green thumb after all’

“Ali!” Zareen nearly screamed in exasperation. “How could you even think about saying all those things to Faizan sahib? Do you realise you are taking advantage of someone’s kindness?” She was extremely vexed. “Isn’t it enough that you are going there for free and that he is tutoring your brother at such low a price? Now you want to take your sister too?” Ali stood there meekly with his head down. All the children were quiet now, frightened by their mother’s anger. “But Mama, he said…” Fahad tried to intervene. “I’m not talking to you, Fahad,” Zareen quieted him immediately. “From tomorrow onwards, no one ...

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